How to Get Your Chronic Pain Under Control
For many sufferers of chronic pain, it’s possible that some basic lifestyle changes can have a noticeable impact on their daily lives. Some with chronic pain must seek out medical treatment, as medicine and therapy are vital to helping people cope with their symptoms, but medicine can’t do it alone. If you want to truly minimize your chronic pain, you must make some simple (but fundamental) lifestyle changes that promote overall wellness.
Focus on your sleep
Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality will, without a doubt, exacerbate your chronic pain symptoms. When you have sleep issues, both your mind and body are unable to recover from fatigue. This leads to more frequent, more intense flare-ups of your pain symptoms.
The problem with sleep is that lack of sleep is not just a cause of chronic pain, but it’s also a symptom. This effectively means that you can’t sleep because you’re in pain and you’re in pain because you can’t sleep. It’s a vicious cycle. Truly focusing on getting good sleep can make a difference. In fact, just being motivated to work on better sleep can help.
“Americans who said they were very or extremely motivated to get enough sleep reported sleeping 36 more minutes per night across the week compared with others (7.3 vs. 6.7 hours). Even among those with pain, a higher motivation to get sleep was associated with longer sleep durations and better sleep quality. That’s a striking metric, indicating as many as 4.2 hours more sleep per week in motivated individuals,” reports the Sleep Foundation.
One way to promote better sleep is to set and keep a strict sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at different times every day is unhealthy and can prevent restful sleep. Also, you should designate your bedroom as a sleeping place only. Don’t watch TV in there, don’t do laundry, and don’t check your emails. Train your brain to know that when you lie down in bed, it’s time to sleep and sleep only.
Avoid foods that trigger you
Very few things are more important or more easily attained than a healthy diet. When it comes to minimizing chronic pain, what you put in your body to fuel it is paramount. Of course, managing our weight is the first step. Obesity worsens chronic pain. But apart from maintaining a healthy weight, there are actually certain foods that you should avoid.
“People with anxiety should limit or avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can trigger panic attacks and worsen anxiety symptoms. Some types of food may aggravate some musculoskeletal conditions, including dairy products, gluten (found in wheat, oats, barley, and rye), corn, sugar, and members of the nightshade family (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and tobacco). Those who experience pain can reduce their intake of tea, coffee, alcohol, red meat, and acid-forming foods,” suggests the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Reducing your caffeine intake is also important, as it can make sleep problems worse. Try replacing everything you drink during the day with water and see how you feel.
De-clutter to minimize stress
Chronic pain is exacerbated by chronic stress. There’s no getting around the fact that high levels of stress do a number on your mind and body, leaving you more open to pain, illness, and disease. To combat stress, it really helps to get clean and organized around your home. If your pain allows for moderate housework that’s great – it’s a good way to get some extra exercise in. If your pain seems to flare up at the mere mention of housework, it may be worth it to hire someone to help. This article from Care.com has some tips on how to select the right housekeeper.
Living with chronic pain is difficult as you know, but with some adjustments to your lifestyle, things don’t have to be as bad as they seem. You may find that some minor changes can lead to major relief.
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